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Teach me about The Morgan Mind (Long)

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  • Teach me about The Morgan Mind (Long)

    I have been around a few Morgans in my time and I remember those horses as having "big" personalities-- not necessarily hot, but these were horses that announced themselves, wanted you to acknowledge them and sometimes, made it clear that they wouldn't take orders just because you gave them.

    I haven't had to teach one... until now. And this thing is Green and 11 years old. Any advice?

    Here are his main ingredients:

    1. He is smart. This one studies his notes after a ride and comes out needing no reminder next time.

    2. He is challenging. He'll ask repeatedly and in different ways if he really has to do what The Man says. E.g.--- I lunge him and he might turn his head to that he can sear my soul with both his eyes. He'll technically do what I ask, but let me know that he thinks he's just humoring me.

    3. He is self-preserving. See #2. This horse did turn his butt to me once and I came after him, can of whup-a$$ right open (which is not what he expected to). So he hasn't done that again. But he will continue to challenge to lesser extents.

    4. He is people-oriented and affectionate. He likes having a job. He adores attention. He also gets jealous of other horses getting attention when he is not. He'll say "Hey come here, go dammit" and (ears back) "F U for not coming over here."

    My main question is about the #3 feature of this horse. Does he need to just pick and lose fights over and over and over? Or would he prefer the brief and clear CTJ meeting?

    Insofar as he likes people and likes having a job, I think he might enjoy both more if he could let go of the challenging part.

    Whaddathink, you Morgan experts?
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat

  • #2
    understanding the Morgan mind...well, all I can say is...have fun & good luck

    Comment


    • #3
      I bought my first Morgan this year and interested to see what experienced Morgan folks have to say. Mine can be a bit pushy (as in, "I want my face scratched NOW and I will knock you over if you don't comply, annoying human") and I have found for him that having a CTJ meeting about such issues and then being absolutely consistent in correcting even small steps towards undesirable behavior has made a huge difference.

      He is lower in the pecking order in the field and I think he really needs a strong leader that he feels confident in as when I do correct him, there is never any dramatic behavior on his part and he visibly relaxes and becomes quieter.

      My guy is also smart, people oriented and generally has a good attitude towards working. I've found that he is VERY forward thinking and that sometimes he just needs a good trot or canter before he can really get down to business and focus.

      Comment


      • #4
        I disagree with your first paragraph as all of our Morgan will do whatever we ask or tell them to do (they all work from voice commands). I cannot believe we were just lucky to find the five we have. They can successfully change from one discipline to another in a heart beat. You change from English to Western, they alter their gaits. Have them on a cross country course and they are fire breathing attack animals, yet put a young child on them they become puppy dogs.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by mvp View Post

          1. He is smart. This one studies his notes after a ride and comes out needing no reminder next time.

          2. He is challenging. He'll ask repeatedly and in different ways if he really has to do what The Man says. E.g.--- I lunge him and he might turn his head to that he can sear my soul with both his eyes. He'll technically do what I ask, but let me know that he thinks he's just humoring me.
          I bought a 9 year old green bean with 30 days of training (Parelli, no less. That was an... ummm interesting video to watch). He was not impressed at all. I swear I saw him roll his eyes more than once but he did what was asked of him.

          When I started doing ground work with him on the lunge line, I got the same "look". Sorta like "I know you know that I know how to lunge so knock it off and lets get down to business".

          They (Morgans) do have a quirky sense of humor. I just know mine is the "pasture clown" but under saddle, when he has a job, he gives a 110%.

          Comment


          • #6
            They certainly aren't for everyone. I'm working on broad stereotypes here, and my direct experience with two Morgan mares, and being around some others. Characteristics I've noted:

            -- smart. WICKED smart. And not always in ways you will appreciate
            -- want a LOT of attention... they tend to have BIG personalities. And they will bond with you very strongly, given the chance.
            -- a dominant one will challenge you, and challenge you, and challenge you. If you stay very clear about your expectations, they'll ... do it less often, and with less intensity. In the case of my mare and the one I leased, I really think it has more to do with self-preservation than "naughtiness."
            -- very food motivated. Very, very food motivated. Use this to your advantage... very carefully.
            -- most I've found want to be a bit more in your personal space than a lot of horses... not in a threatening way, usually.

            An online friend of mine needed to sell her young Morgan gelding. He was as sweet as pie, and had adapted very quickly to dealing with her wheelchair and other physical issues, and was very safe for her to handle. Needless to say, he was more "in her space" than a lot of horses, and some buyers found that very unappealing. She found that buyers who were used to Quarter Horses or had a strong expectation of instant obedience did not like her horse.

            Morgans are... special. In good and bad ways.
            You have to have experiences to gain experience.

            1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"

            Comment


            • #7
              Morgans need a job or they turn that energy elsewhere. Working hard, especially outside the ring, is really, really good for them. They tend to not do well with constant repetition and drilling, so it can be a bit of a challenge to develop exercises that keep their attention. I often compare them to Border Collies- you have to use that brain and that energy or they are going to think of their own ways to use it and that isn't usually good.
              "As soon as you're born you start dyin'
              So you might as well have a good time"

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by mvp View Post
                My main question is about the #3 feature of this horse. Does he need to just pick and lose fights over and over and over? Or would he prefer the brief and clear CTJ meeting?

                Whaddathink, you Morgan experts?
                Yes and Yes. **

                ** My answer is based on a little ASB who can pass for a fat little Morgan most of the time. She'll free lunge, but the entire time will give a look that just says "I f&*#ing hate this...and you" but will keep doing it. At 23, she still tests and tests. She's Mom's horse now; at Christmas, I heard what a wench she (horse, not Mom) had been lately . When I went to the barn, I picked up a whip on my way in, and commenced beating on the stall before even saying hi. Went in the stall and pounded on it (stall, not horse) some more; maybe 2-3 min total. She stood in corner and looked at me "So this is how it's going to be." YEP. We got on just dandy. Clipped her no problem at all. Didn't try and run me over at the stall door. No nonsense. I never laid a hand on her. It was great.

                The periodic brief and clear CTJ discussions help greatly, and reduce the daily mini battles.

                Insofar as he likes people and likes having a job, I think he might enjoy both more if he could let go of the challenging part.
                I wouldn't bet on it. I'm pretty sure the mare I have enjoys the battles and pushing buttons. But then she's a nasty wench and always has been.
                Visit my Spoonflower shop

                Comment


                • #9
                  I have met a couple of Morgans and none of them stood out as having unusually different brains from other horses.

                  One was hot and a little dominant, another was quieter with a stubborn streak. A third was super friendly and willing to work with any rider.

                  You run into the same personalilies in individuals across the breeds, imo.
                  The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
                  Jinxyhttp://tiny.cc/PIC798&http://tiny.cc/jinx364
                  Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
                  The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I have one to train. I backed him last monday. He's funny, silly, pushy, and has big rockstar hair. I luff him already. I was picked as his trainer because my training expertise is almost entirely pony-mares.

                    I'll let you know if I discover anything about a morgan character.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      They are different, for sure, especially if you aren't used to dealing with them. I have two. One is a very dominant, totally bonded to me gelding. He will do anything I ask (and he's not just humoring me, he tries his heart out) and he'll run in to the barn ready to work. I have never seen such a phenomenal work ethic in any horse before. For him, the CTJ meeting usually is all it takes, if whatever gets far enough to need one. He used to have an issues with barging thru gates and we had a few meetings. I did discover that you really can't let them get away with anything. That thinking brain will come back to bite you in the butt and they'll test more next time. Both of my boys are like this.

                      The other doesn't really need any meetings. Minor corrections for him are about all it takes. But he's a more laid back personality, doesn't have the work ethic and drive that Remy does.

                      They are both fun horses, hysterical to watch play and will take anything off of a shelf or hook if you turn your back for a second. LOL

                      I don't think I'll ever own another breed.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Oh - and I'd like to add, at least with Remy, doing something over and over and over again under saddle gets old quick. And I finally figured out after awhile that it just backfires on me. If he is doing well and understanding what I'm asking, I move on and come back to that either later in the ride or in another ride.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I kind of look at them as the Border Collie of horses. Super smart, needs a bit of variety, not mean but easily bored with repeitition. They can turn to the "dark side" if not kept worked a lot. Geldings especially develop "tricks" that will drive you CRAZY if you don't do things to tire them out almost daily.

                          One I knew had a fixation on tank heaters. He ruined them ALL the time dragging them out of the tank. He even would dive down and pull out the (SEVERAL) screw-in, drain plug types at the bottom of the tanks! What a mess that was with frozen ice everywhere! I know they replaced at least 12 heaters, before they made a box for the tank with a TINY hole in the cover for drinking out of, so he couldn't get to the heaters. Kept the tank topped off, but wow, that is a lot of money for heaters!!

                          They can be a bit of "make me do it" at times, again geldings more than mares. Few need very harsh measures taken, just want to know you "really mean it" when you say DO IT. They will give you the LOOK, but if they know what you ask, they will obey if you keep the pressure on. Might be a survival tactic, horse asks handler "Are your REALLY SURE that is what you want?" He doesn't want to have to do it wrong, then again right, when handler didn't make a good choice!

                          I would NOT want to deal with a Parelli trained one, who thought he had a say in choices!! What a combination for disaster that could be, convincing him that wasn't true!

                          I think your list of Morgan qualities is pretty accurate. Horse is not mean, just self-serving, in getting the communication clear between the two of you. Doesn't want to work harder than needed! Train him right the first time, don't allow choices that can go wrong for him. Use him as much as you can, they are working fools. Tough enough for any kind of job, though some lines are better for some things than other lines who do other jobs better. He is super smart in most cases, enjoy him!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Rode Morgans before I had Arabs. The horse we had for 25 years was without a doubt the best horse I have ever known. Not an evil bone in that guy's body, I can't think of any time he *ever* misbehaved. I don't even remember correcting him for anything. Seriously. We did everything with him and lots of people rode him and he was as consistent as a machine. His only flaw was that he did not like indoor arenas, so if you had to show him indoors, you could expect a very polite but definite freight train effect on the reins. But he never, ever misbehaved.

                            All of the other Morgans I knew were very smart, super trainable, and so easy to get along with - and very beautiful. Not quite as sensitive as an Arab, but not plugs either. This was true for top show horses like In Command, A-OK, etc. Of course this was 40 years ago - I hope that disposition hasn't been bred out of them, but I doubt that it has.

                            If I ever go looking for another horse besides Mr Ay-rab, a Morgan it will be!

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Originally posted by quietann View Post
                              -- smart. WICKED smart. And not always in ways you will appreciate
                              -- want a LOT of attention... they tend to have BIG personalities. And they will bond with you very strongly, given the chance.
                              -- a dominant one will challenge you, and challenge you, and challenge you. If you stay very clear about your expectations, they'll ... do it less often, and with less intensity. In the case of my mare and the one I leased, I really think it has more to do with self-preservation than "naughtiness."
                              -- very food motivated. Very, very food motivated. Use this to your advantage... very carefully.
                              -- most I've found want to be a bit more in your personal space than a lot of horses... not in a threatening way, usually.
                              That sounds like him.

                              I did discover the hard way that this one likes treats and that I hadn't thought enough about how/when to dispense those. IMO, he needs to earn them, or he will spend his time trying to extort the ones given at random times.

                              The weird thing is that I think this horse *does* like me because I actually do stuff with him that makes him think. I'm not wallpaper and he feels heard (if also offended) by me having an in-depth training conversation with him.

                              I really like him as a 4-legged student.
                              The armchair saddler
                              Politically Pro-Cat

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by mvp View Post
                                That sounds like him.

                                I did discover the hard way that this one likes treats and that I hadn't thought enough about how/when to dispense those. IMO, he needs to earn them, or he will spend his time trying to extort the ones given at random times.
                                This is making me giggle. What I've found with the mare is that if a behavior is associated with treats, she will repeat it endlessly. It can get a bit annoying. Random treats are a recipe for trouble, I think.

                                The hardest thing to train is a "DON'T do something". But it took only a couple of times, for example, for her to learn to stop pawing when she knew we were about to do her stretches. I'd have the treats in my hand, and be breaking them in half, and every time she pawed I'd turn my back on her and walk down the barn aisle. She showed classic "extinction burst" behavior, going into a frenzy of pawing and then stopping. Now, if she lifts a forefoot like she might paw, I tell her "Remember..." and turn away ever so slightly, and she puts her foot back down.

                                Silly stuff: I had "cider breath" yesterday when I went out to say goodbye, and she just about turned herself inside out trying to find the non-existent apple.

                                Which reminds me... having a good sense of humor is essential with them.
                                Last edited by quietann; Jan. 28, 2013, 03:27 PM.
                                You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                                1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by quietann View Post
                                  Silly stuff: I had "cider breath" yesterday when I went out to say goodbye, and she just about turned herself inside out trying to find the non-existent apple.

                                  Which reminds me... having a good sense of humor is essential with them.
                                  Cider Breath made me laugh! Watching her had to be hysterical, they try so hard!

                                  The sense of humor you have might need to be hidden, not rewarding antics, though your face feels like it will break!! The Morgans do have their own sense of humor, CAN'T let them guess you also find it funny or you get the endless repeating.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by quietann View Post
                                    This is making me giggle. What I've found with the mare is that if a behavior is associated with treats, she will repeat it endlessly. It can get a bit annoying. Random treats are a recipe for trouble, I think.

                                    The hardest thing to train is a "DON'T do something". But it took only a couple of sessions, for example, for her to learn to stop pawing when she knew we were about to do her stretches. I'd have the treats in my hand, and be breaking them in half, and every time she pawed I'd turn my back on her and walk down the barn aisle. She showed classic "extinction burst" behavior, going into a frenzy of pawing and then stopping. Now, if she lifts a forefoot like she might paw, I tell her "Remember..." and turn away ever so slightly, and she puts her foot back down.

                                    Silly stuff: I had "cider breath" yesterday when I went out to say goodbye, and she just about turned herself inside out trying to find the non-existent apple.

                                    Which reminds me... having a good sense of humor is essential with them.
                                    My one Morgan gelding was sooo like this. Once he learned that he got a treat for doing something, he would repeat it ad nauseum. I taught him to bow for a treat as a way to do stretches with him. So for a while, anytime I walked by his field, he would bow and then look over at me. I also used treats when I taught him changes (a terrible idea but I was 17 then), I would ask for a change and if he gave it to me without bucking, I would stop him and give him a treat from the saddle. This resulted in flying change, slamming on the brakes and then whipping his head around for his treat- NOT a brilliant plan on my part LOL!
                                    "As soon as you're born you start dyin'
                                    So you might as well have a good time"

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I have been lurking now and again but couldn't resist this topic.

                                      I just rescued a 22 year old, half blind, very well bred, UVM Morgan mare this summer. I know the term "rescue" is thrown around lightly but this girl was bad off. Long story, but she basically fell through the cracks but she came with papers so I found out her history (the people I bought her from were not on the papers). She was difficult to catch in for the first few months. She was shown saddleseat and the previous, legitimate owners, said she had come back from the saddleseat trainer traumatized. In the arena, she is fast, hot and energetic, throwing her legs out and moving with more animation then I'll ever need. Outside the arena, she is much better. We're working through barnsourness right now but she is taking to the trails very well, despite being half blind.

                                      I find her to be smart, affectionate, quick to learn (she can now lunge, even on her blind side, using voice commands) and eager to please. I introdduced her to moving our cows the other day.

                                      I cannot say enough nice things about her. Did I just get incredibly lucky?
                                      “Pray, hope, and don't worry.”

                                      St. Padre Pio

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Weird, none of my Morgans (currently have, well, 8...) has that "make me do it" personality. What I find is, they want to know what you want them to do, and will ask questions -a lot of them sometimes - till they understand. They are thinkers. Many things they do which we think to be challenges for your authority are literally questions - should I stick my neck out? No? OK... should I stick my butt in? no? Oh you mean, just go straight with my nose straight forward? Yeah I can do that. Now let me show you just how smart I am.

                                        Now I'm not saying disciplines are not necessary - oh they do, just like any rowdy teenagers, but they are so sensitive that most of the time a well placed growl or even a frown or pursed lips on my part is all is needed. They so much thrive on giving you the right answer, you see. Praise them the moment they do it right, and they try even harder for you the next time. And yes, they do study notes in between sessions - it is not unusual for my Morgans to come to a session "better" than the finish of the last one.

                                        If you misinterpret all those questions as "make me do it," you miss a lot of fun teaching a lot of fantastic things to them. On the other hand, if you can show them what you want, the pride they literally show in their gaits and poses for a job well done is hard to miss.

                                        One year we took our then yearling to a show. During lunch break my husband took him to a warm up ring when nobody was practicing, and sent the boy over some jumps to stretch his legs a bit. At one jump, my boy had the rope tangled around his hooves. He stopped before the jump, untangled himself, scooted himself over, and hopped over the jump by himself, and then he turned to look at my husband, all proud and giddy, "Look how wonderful I am!" he literally said in his eyes. He almost couldn't contain himself when my husband, also awfully giddy, gave him a big rub on the nose.

                                        Now that is the reward you get with these horses.

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